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Regional Exchange Workshop on UNDRIP and Human Rights Advocacy

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) conducted the Regional Exchange Workshop on UNDRIP and Human Rights Advocacy on 12-15 November 2013 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  AIPP member-organisation Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA) hosted the workshop which was participated by 25 participants (13 men and 12 women) from  member/partner-organizations from Cambodia, Nepal, Northeast India, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

This workshop is part of the programme to promote the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It provided a forum for exchange of experiences and knowledge and cross-learning among the participants with regards to their work  in capacity building, awareness-raising, and advocacy work on the UNDRIP at the local, national  as well as regional levels

 There were panel discussions on three specific themes – (i) practical experiences and lessons learned on capacity building at the ground, (ii) campaign, lobby and advocacy for recognition and exercise of indigenous peoples’ rights (iii) experiences human rights documentation and advocacy work at the local and national level. Practical experiences and lessons learned in terms of capacity building and advocacy of indigenous communities as pointed out by the partner-organizations are:

  1. The use of legal terminologies of the UNDRIP is better understood if linked with local issues. It is more effective to focus on local issues, then adapt and localize the training manual.
  2. The involvement of traditional leaders in the training is critical as they have stronger identification with collective rights, self-determination and the practice of customary laws.
  3. It is important to identify good practices of local struggles and of advocacy for sharing in the training, as it give more substance to the discussions.
  4. Trainings and community sessions provide opportunity to bring people together for collective action.
  5. The approach of learning together facilitates experience sharing as well as inter-generational transfer of knowledge between the youth and the elders.
  6. Using ‘talk-show’ in the training is an effective method, not only in the transfer of information and knowledge to the participants but it reflect the cultural appropriateness of indigenous peoples as oral-sharing is part of the indigenous culture.
  7. Collaborate with NGOs working in the community or on similar issues to develop methodologies for awareness raising.
  8. Awareness raising of indigenous communities is an important first step to advocacy of indigenous issues and rights.

In addition, sharing of practical experiences on the technique of lobby and advocacy using cultural approach, mobilizing media, informal meetings with government and non state actors was a valuable lessons that the participants learned and hope to apply in their respective work. Overall, the participants felt that the workshop had enhanced their skills in strategic thinking in terms of capacity building and advocacy work.

The workshop was combined with a community visit to Chreap Thymey, a Kui community in Banteay Meanchey province. The community is composed of 186 households with a population of 1085. Farming is the main occupation. The issues currently faced by the community are limited land for cultivation, high rate of migration especially amongst the youth, low literacy rate, loss of cultural identity particularly on the use of Kui language. In the past, land grabbing by the outsiders was a critical issue, so they mobilized themselves and formed a village committee to solve this problem. In 2005, the community applied and got communal land title from the Ministry of Land Urban management, Planning and Construction. Now, the community manages the forestland and natural resources in it. The community has good relationship and coordination with the local authority that support the community in preserving the land and forest.

This workshop is part of the project on ‘Empowering indigenous peoples in reclaiming their cultural landscape and traditional territories’ supported by The Christensen Fund as a follow up project to the earlier project on capacity building of indigenous peoples on the promotion of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) implemented in 2009-2010.

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